Jackson County EMA uses grant money to upgrade technology

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SCOTTSBORO, Ala. — The Jackson County Emergency Management Agency is looking to bridge the technological divide between the Emergency Operation Center (EOC) and a new state-of-the-art mobile command unit they just assembled.

“We’re going to upgrade computers here in the office, the TVs. The plan is to kind of make a wall mount where you’ll have three TVs on top, three TVs on bottom where we can view different information, whether it’s multiple news sources or cast different information such as weather, traffic, anything else that pertains to the incident that we have going on,” explained Jackson County EMA Deputy Director Joshua Whitcomb.

Whitcomb told News 19 Friday that they received the $37,596 Tides Foundation grant in December.

He said the coronavirus forced many things to go digital and believes the tech upgrades will allow for better social distancing of agency leaders and workers during emergencies.

Whitcomb explained that it will also help them get information out to the public faster, which could keep residents safe.

“Whether it’s through the news media, social media, or individual public agencies themselves and try to communicate that in real time or as close to real time as humanly possible. In times of disaster whether it’s a weather event or a hazmat incident, time is always of the essence,” said Whitcomb. 

Once the EMA is done upgrading technology inside the EOC, they will buy other high-tech gear that will help speed up search and rescue efforts.

“We’re going to look for the FLIR thermal technology. It’s going to be a little bit better at picking up what signatures.We’re also looking at the Spot 3 GPS messenger which will track locations via GPS satellites and then we’ll be able to send messages to the individual search groups,” said Whitcomb.

Whitcomb told News 19 he hopes to have everything in by March 1, 2021.

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